RSU 3 voters ratify budget

Posted June 17, 2011, at 3:28 p.m.

UNITY, Maine — The voters of RSU 3 this week ratified the proposed $19.2 million budget for the school district’s next fiscal year.

An estimated 350 people went to polls Tuesday in the district’s 11 member towns to vote on the final numbers. RSU 3 serves the communities of Brooks, Freedom, Jackson, Knox, Liberty, Monroe, Montville, Thorndike, Troy, Unity and Waldo.

Superintendent Heather Perry said Thursday that the 2011-12 school year budget is about $150,000 less than the budget for the fiscal year that ends on June 30. About nine positions have been cut, she said.

“Luckily, we were able to do that through attrition. No one will be laid-off,” Perry said.

Those positions include the district’s literacy coaches, a high school science teacher, a half-time high school French teacher, an elementary school library and media specialist, an elementary school teacher, a special education technician and a home-to-school coordinator, among others.

Perry said the anticipated loss of about $900,000 in federal stimulus funds left the school district facing a “cliff,” but it was able to navigate that cliff through creative cost-cutting.

She said the district’s board of directors limited the tax increase to local communities to $25,000, which is less than half of a percent.

The district’s voters also opted to create a fuel stabilization fund for the school district, a move which allows the RSU to set aside $20,000 from this fiscal year’s balance as a safety net, Perry said.

The money can be used to offset increases in diesel fuel prices for the next fiscal year. The district has not yet been able to lock in a diesel fuel price for that time period, and Perry said that the far-flung district’s buses consume about 65,000 gallons per year.

Additionally, voters authorized the district to allow the spending of up to $105,000 in state audit reimbursements to complete the Mount View Complex construction project.

“The money already exists,” Perry said. “We need permission from voters to spend [it.]”

In other business related to the school district, she said the board of directors this year has approved the creation of a “stakeholder group” which will gather data regarding the possibility of closing Monroe Elementary School.

Any action taken on the matter will not go into effect until the following fiscal year, Perry said.

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